Thursday, September 4, 2008
Demolished: May 1978
919 West 20th Street – map
Sad to say, but Los Angeles Landmark No. 179 was demolished more than thirty years ago following a substantial fire on May 23, 1978. If it weren’t for these old photos, courtesy of the city’s Office of Historic Resources, we may have no evidence at all of this nearly-forgotten monument.
The Hartman family built this Queen Anne home in 1908 on the southwest corner of Oak and Washington Streets. The eight-bedroom home contained a large dining room, kitchen, living room, and a ballroom with a massive stone fireplace. The main floor had an additional pair of fireplaces. (This must've been one of the last Victorian homes built in the city, no? I mean, by 1908, weren't Prairie and Craftsman homes already the more prominent style?)
Ten years later, to make room for the Hartman Apartments, the house was picked up and moved around the block to 919 West 20th Street.
Below is an old Sanborn map of the area. You can clearly make out the Hartmann [sic] Apartments up top, but, for some reason, there’s a blank space at 919 West 20th. Don’t ask me to explain this. I can’t account for the missing house. (Oh. I should note the Hartman Apartments have been gone for at least thirty years as well.)
Mr Hartman, at the age of 98, sold the house to Rodney Loeb, and, to the community, it became apparent that future plans for the property did not include the old home. As a means of (temporary, at least) protection, the house was declared a monument in August 1977, much to the owners’ opposition (had the city not tabled earlier attempts to have the home designated, perhaps the landmark would still be around today). At the time of its declaration, the building was a rooming house for USC students and still stood in pretty good shape, especially the interior. The sixty-nine-year-old building boasted excellent carpentry work inside and out, including a porch that wrapped around half the structure. Inside, there still remained the original gas lines and outlets as well as the hand-painted ceiling wallpaper as seen in these shots:
And if I’ve learned anything from Recentering El Pueblo, it’s that the type of window up top in the left-hand picture below is a l'oeil de boeuf, or ‘bull’s eye.'
In 1978, a Mr Huck was still seeking to re-zone the area and demolish the home to put up a parking lot to serve his garment-cutting facility next door. Consequently, there was that 1978 fire, and the house was quickly razed. What raised a stink, though, was the fact the city’s Building and Safety Department failed to notify the Cultural Heritage Board that it had okayed the demolition of an official city landmark. It was ultimately decided, however, the oversight was the result of not of any devious motive but rather of just “human error.”
Want to see 919 West 20th Street nowadays? No, you don’t. Here it is anyway:
Special extra-big thank to Rita at the Office of Human Resources who provided me with these scans.
Up next: Site of the Filming of the First Talking Feature Film